Top 5 Security Gadgets

UCam-247

Whether you’re going on holiday, sending your son or daughter away to university for the first time or simply concerned about your possessions being stolen, you most probably have some sort of security worry nagging away at the back of your mind. Fortunately whatever your fears there’s almost certainly a gadget to address them, here are five of the best.

UCam247 IP Camera

The UCam247 range of IP cameras connect directly to your home router so there’s no need for a computer to be switched on for them to operate. This also means that they can be accessed from anywhere via dedicated iPhone and Android apps. The cameras can be set up via the apps too so you don’t really need a computer at all.

Images are captured in high definition and there are a range of features including motion detection, night vision and automatic email alerts. The cameras come in indoor and outdoor versions making them suitable for a wide range of security tasks as well as being a useful way of monitoring a baby or a pet. Prices start from £110 for an indoor version, visit UCam247 for more details.

PacSafe

Pacsafe StuffSafe

Ideal for gap year students, festival goers and travellers of all kinds, the StuffSafe is an 80 litre waterproof bag. What makes it special is the stainless-steel eXomesh that’s wrapped around the outside. This is slash proof, snatch proof and tamper proof, for safety in transit it can be locked closed or locked to something else for security. When you arrive at your destination it can be fastened to something immovable making it perfect for protecting your valuables in hotel rooms and hostels.

The StuffSafe costs £81 from Cotswold Outdoor

LifeLock

LifeLock

If you’re worried about the security of a room, whether you’re a business traveller in a hotel, a student in university accommodation or just generally paranoid, the LifeLock might be the answer. This award-winning gadget can lock any door in seconds without the use of tools, yet can be taken off afterwards without leaving a mark. No codes or keys are needed so it can be easily removed in emergencies. The device has an integral LCD clock and also includes a built-in torch so you can fit it in the dark.

Peace of mind in your room costs £35.94 from LifeLock

Fake-TV

Fake TV

Burglars tend to be opportunists so they’ll be put off if they think there’s someone at home. As an alternative to having your lights on a timer when you’re away from home, the Fake TV reproduces the flickering light patterns of a television set. It gives out the same amount of light as a 27-inch LCD TV and a sensor turns it on automatically as it gets dark, the device can be set to stay on for four or seven hours before shutting off.

Fake TV uses less power than a standard lamp and costs £34.95 from Gizoo

Kensington-Proximo

Kensington Proximo

It’s reckoned that a smartphone is stolen or lost every 3.5 seconds, which is pretty annoying if it happens to be yours. The Proximo sensor tag is paired with your smartphone and will alert you when it strays out of range. You can also attach a sensor to your keys to ensure that you can always find them too.

The starter kit with a sensor and a key fob costs £49.99 and extra sensors are available at £19.99 each from Kensington. It’s currently iPhone only but an Android version is on the way.

5 Desktop PCs for under £500

Acer-XC-and-TC

In this smartphone and tablet-powered era, the traditional desktop PC is looking rather antiquated. Moore’s Law continues to facilitate the development of smaller and smaller devices, and even laptops – historically the most functional of business tools – are becoming slimline and cool, with fully rotating screens that can also be detached as standalone devices.

Against this streamlined assault, the time-honoured desk-mounted black box is looking like an endangered species. To investigate whether rumours of the desktop’s demise have been exaggerated, Latest Gadgets has assembled a top five list of PCs that can be purchased for less than £500 – the price of a mid-level tablet – to see whether there’s life in the old warhorse yet.

Acer Aspire XC/TC series
Unveiled last week, Acer’s AMD-powered PCs come in desktop (XC) and micro-tower (TC) guises, with a stylish exterior far removed from the drab boxes of yore. TC models nod to progress by featuring a recess on top where tablets and smartphones can rest, although these computers still pack plenty of punch, with up to 16GB of memory and the ability to get users online in 2.5 seconds.
Price: between £279.99 and £599.99, from stockists including Amazon and John Lewis

Dell Inspiron 660
Let’s be honest, Dell is probably the first name that springs to mind in terms of black-box PC towers, and their Inspiron range of desktops has powered countless homes and offices over the years. The 660 is pretty uninspiring aesthetically, but it retaliates through the sheer brute force of its specifications, including a 1TB hard drive, the newest Intel Core i5 processor, and 4GB of RAM.
Price: £449 when bought from the Dell website

HP Pavilion p6
HP have been keeping pace with the industry trend-setters, and their Pavilion p6 incorporates some features that will attract knowing nods from cognoscenti. For one thing, Beats Audio is installed, with support for 7.1 surround sound, while the p6 can even be controlled remotely via an Android or iOS app from your tablet or smartphone. Two HD ports and 6GB of RAM reinforce its appeal.
Price: £449.99 from PC World (current discounted price)

Lenovo H520
With its brushed-steel-effect frontage and compact dimensions, Lenovo’s H520 series is probably the desktop to choose if you’re going to be looking at it all day, rather than hiding it out of sight. Price is another H520 strength, retailing at less than £430 despite a spec list that encompasses a 3 GHz clock speed, a terabyte hard drive, built-in wifi, and Lenovo’s proprietary content management software.
Price: £429.99 from Currys

ADMI FX-4100
Gamers may be spoiled for choice on tablets nowadays, but complex games require sophisticated hardware, and ADMI’s player-friendly tower fits the bill nicely. That striking red exterior houses a 4 GHz Intel processor, a 2GB graphics card and a 1TB hard drive, as well as full 1080p HDMI output. Uniquely among this round-up, it comes with Windows 7, but the price point is impressive nonetheless.
Price: £414.95 from Amazon (at time of writing)

Top WiFi Routers for Your Home

DIR-Router

Today’s households have more internet-connected devices than ever before – so as you can imagine having a robust home Wi-Fi network to connect your burgeoning family of devices has never been more important.

Choosing the right router for your home can be a bit of a minefield. It isn’t as simple as choosing the most expensive. For example: there’s no point going for a dual-band router if all your devices have old wireless receivers and therefore can’t take advantage of the extra power on offer via the new 802.11ac wireless standard.

Here are our some of our top pick for the some of the best Wireless routers available today.

D-Link DIR-810L – Price, £116.

D-Link has been synonymous with home networking for years, and has just released a new range of wireless routers promising increased performance and no more pesky dropouts. With their DIR-810L, you’ll enjoy the benefits of faster speeds and increased home coverage from the get-go. The DIR-810L has been specifically designed for homes where there’s a lot of HD streaming and large file transfers taking place. It’s an ideal solution for, say, a student house where there could conceivably be as many as 20 internet-connected devices running at anyone time.

The DIR-810L is so much faster than your average router because its part of the new 802.11ac family, which has now replaced 802.11n standard. We won’t bore you with the details but AC can achieve far higher speeds than a current N router, due to fact it operates on both 2.4GHz and the new 5GHz frequencies.

The great thing about this router is it is backwards compatible with all of your existing 802.11n wireless devices. And to make the transition to superfast speeds even easier you can add USB adapters to your existing desktop and laptop computers to bring them up the new AC standard.

myDLink-router

DIR-868L Wireless AC1750 Dual Band Gigabit Cloud Router- Price, £140

D-Link has also announced variant of the new 8 series for users who want more than just superfast wireless connectivity. The DIR-868L USB 3.0 is also a dual-band 802.11ac router but comes with a bevy extra ports including four Gigabit Ethernet ports to provide high-speed wired connections for up to four PCs or game consoles.

The router’s SharePort Mobile app allows you to also connect a USB 3.0 storage device so you can instantly share documents, movies, pictures, and music with mobile devices and other computers connected to the network. And there’s also cloud support via D-Link’s mydlink Lite app, which helps you access, manage and view your network remotely from anywhere in the world securely.

The router operates on both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz wireless bands at the same time and has six internal antennas for even greater wireless coverage.

TP-Link-Router

TP-Link TD-W8980 N600 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit ADSL2+ Modem – Price, £85

TP-LINK’s new TD-W8980 is an incredibly robust all-in-one dual-band device combining both 5GHz band and the traditional 2.4GHz band. With 2 multifunctional USB ports, users can share printers, files and media across the local network.

Handily the TD-W8980 does the work of several networking devices packed into one device. It acts as ADSL2+ Modem, NAT Router, 4-Port Switch and Wireless N Access Point, eliminating the need to purchase multiple devices to access and share a high-speed Internet.

With 300Mbps 802.11n wireless and 4-gigabit LAN ports, the TD-W8980 is the ideal choice for bandwidth heavy users that rely on speedy, reliable connections for bandwidth intensive work or entertainment such as video calls, HD video streaming and online gaming.

Using the TD-W8980’s two multi-functional USB 2.0 ports, users can share printers, files and media either throughout the network at home with several different computers or even away, using the device’s FTP server functions so that you never have to part with your files.

Belkin-Router

Belkin Powerline AV+ Starter Kit – Price, £109.99

If you live in a big house then you might have to face the fact the no matter what wireless router you use, it may not serve your entire house. So what other options do you have? Well, you can, of course, run Ethernet cables to every room, and on new build homes this is become more and more commonplace.

But there is another way: homeplugs. They’re the easiest way to create an integrated network using your existing power lines within your house.
To setup a pair of Belkin’s Powerline homeplugs it’s incredibly simple. First, you connect one adapter to your existing router and then plug it into an available plug socket. Then you plug the second adapter into an available wall socket where you want the Internet; and then you connect the other end to a device with an available Ethernet. And that’s about it.

Almost every device – except mobiles of course – has an Ethernet port and quite often a wired connection is a lot more robust than a wireless connection. Homeplugs are ideal for devices that don’t move around a lot, so if you need to connect your Sky box to your router a homeplug would be a the ideal solution. The only downside is you’re placement is obviously dictated by where you have an available wall socket. But in theory you could run an extension cable into the garden and still get full-speed wired Internet. The great thing about homeplugs is they work alongside a normal router, so they’re there to supplement the system rather than replace it. So if you have a room that’s a nightmare for wireless signal, a pair of well-positioned homeplugs could be the answer to all your wireless woes.

Belkin offers an affordable range with their Powerline AV+ starter kit. You get two plugs and you can easily add more pairs to more rooms as you see fit. What’s great about this particular set is each homeplug comes with 3 extra ethernet ports allowing you to plug in multiple devices into each home plug. So it would be an ideal solution for a lounge where you might have several devices that need to be connected to the Internet but don’t get moved around all that often.

WD My Passport Ultra: Think Local Act Dropbox

WD-My-Passport-Ultra

Local storage is all well and good until a flash flood sweeps through your home or a thief makes off with all your tech goodies; cloud-based storage also has its drawbacks, should you lose your connection to the Web or if Amazon’s servers suddenly collapse under the weight of all your holiday snaps. It’s perhaps with these considerations in mind that Western Digital’s latest hard drive range uses software that combines local storage with Dropbox integration.

The new drives are the latest entrants in the established Passport range, focusing on slim, portable drives that only require a USB connection to power up. They’re ideal for swapping between computers and backing up your stuff, though they don’t quite reach the speeds or capacities of full-size external drives. The new line-up comes in four colours (red, blue, black or grey) and a choice of three capacities (500GB, 1TB or 2TB).

All the drives are USB 3.0-enabled and come with hardware encryption and password protection capabilities, as handled by the aforementioned WD SmartWare Pro software. The latest edition of Western Digital’s proprietary software solution does a neat job of mirroring the files on your drive with your cloud-based Dropbox storage, though you’ll only be able to have your most important files in both places at once unless you fork out for Dropbox’s paid-for packages ($49.99 or roughly £32 a month for 500GB, at the last check). Dropbox gives users 2GB for free, though you can quickly increase that with referrals.

Each drive comes with a carrying pouch and USB cable. The 500GB model has a RRP of €89.90 (roughly £76), while the 1TB version will set you back €129.90 (£110). Pricing has yet to be confirmed for the 2TB edition, which is coming to retailers in the next month or two.

My-Passport-Ultra-Hand

At first glance the most impressive aspect of the My Passport Ultra is how small and svelte it is, even when compared with drives from the same line up just one or two years ago. These drives really are getting to the pocket-sized stage. The 500GB version we put through its paces was set up in seconds and transferred data at an impressive rate, particularly over USB 3.0 — you can expect to shift around 5GB of data every minute, which blows most other drives out of the water. A transfer rate of around 30MB/s was achieved over USB 2.0.

Hooking the unit’s integrated backup software up to Dropbox only took a couple of mouse clicks, and there’s a useful quick backup option that picks out the most important folders from your PC automatically. We would’ve liked to see a tool for backing up to Dropbox and the external drive simultaneously, but for now it’s either one or the other. Of course, you can always use the My Passport Ultra to create a copy of your existing Dropbox folder to keep all bases covered.

With Western Digital’s wealth of experience, as well as the hefty capacities and polished looks of the new models, it’s difficult to look past the My Passport Ultra range when it comes to portable hard drive solutions. That said, there’s plenty of choice out there — Freecom’s Mobile range is worth considering, and the company seems to take as much interest in the look of its drives as Western Digital does. Seagate is another of the big players with a strong track record, and its Wireless Plus drive works without cables and can be accessed by mobiles and tablets as well as computers (though you will of course pay a premium for the privilege).

Best of Computex 2013

Asus-Transformer

Running until June 8, Taiwan’s largest consumer electronics show Computex is taking place this week with over 1,700 exhibitors showing off their wares – here’s what caught our eye.

Asus unveiled yet more post-pc devices, with their newly announced Transformer Book Trio. It’s the world’s first three-in-one mobile device. The device has a detachable 11.6-inch display and comes with dual operating systems. The device can switch from Windows 8 notebook to Android tablet to Windows 8 desktop – a world first for a hybrid tablet/notebook.

The Transformer Book Trio switches easily between operating systems to give users access to over 700,000 Android apps on Google’s Play Store and access to 50,000 Windows apps from Microsoft’s app store.

Despite running two different operating systems, ASUS has spent a lot time making switching between the two systems a pain-free as possible, allowing users to sync data or continue to surf the web when moving from notebook to tablet mode.

The PC station comes with an Intel Core i7 processor, full QWERTY keyboard, 750GB of internal storage and, when the tablet is detached it can be connected to an external display for us as a full desktop PC. The PC dock serves as a charger for the tablet so to extend its battery life, whilst, the tablet-side of the device features a 2.0 GHz Intel Atom processor, 16:9 full HD 1920 x 1080 screen and up to 64GB internal flash storage.

Sonotar-Smart-Watch

Sonostar e-ink watches

Wearable technology is likely to be big growth industry in the coming years, with everyone from Apple and Google looking into the burgeoning technology. E Ink, the company behind the screen technology for a variety of e-readers including Amazon’s Kindle, announced a brand-new e-ink display and collaboration with Sonostar for a second-screen watch that connects to your smartphone or tablet.

E ink’s new 1.73-inch touchscreen display comes with resolution of 320 x 240 and is capable of producing 16 levels of greyscale. Obviously e-ink screens aren’t colour screens. And while this might seem like a massive oversight, e-ink technology actually has several benefits over colour screens. The technology is incredibly frugal when it comes to power consumption compared to coloured screens, and they’re a lot easier to read in direct sunlight compared to normal colour screens.

The Sonostar Smart Watch connects to either your iPhone or Android device using Bluetooth, and displays information on calls, messages, social networking updates, and emails. Also, the screen is flexible which means the watch face doesn’t have to be flat, allowing Sonostar to craft a watch that better matches the curve of your arm.

The Sonostar Smart Watch is set to be released sometime after the summer, and has been priced at £100 for either the black or white models.

Nvidia-Project-Shield

Project Shield, Nvidia

Chipset maker Nvidia were at Computex, too, showing off their new handheld Android-powered games console: Shield (yes, they’re dropping the “project” part from the name). Shield consists of a console game controller with a flip-up display housing a pin sharp 5-inch, 720p, multi-touch display.

Powering Shield is Nvidia’s Tegra 4 mobile processor with a quad-core CPU, 72 GPU cores, and 2GB of RAM. The handheld also carries 16GB of onboard storage and features GPS, Bluetooth 3.0, a mini-HDMI output, micro-USB 2.0, a microSD storage slot for memory expansion, and an 3.5 mm stereo headphone jack. Shield runs Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean and can play both Tegra-optimised and regular Android games – as well as having access to Android’s 700,000 non-gaming apps. Nvidia has said it’s working on streaming your favorite PC games to Shield, too, including titles from Steam in the near future.

Asus-Monitor

ASUS Ultra HD PC screen

At Computex ASUS showcased the world’s first Ultra HD PC monitors. The new 31.5-inch monitor costs a not unreasonable £2,500 and comes with a staggering resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 – four times as many pixels as a standard 1080p PC monitor. The company is also going to be prepping a 39-inch version too. ASUS expects to begin shipping the 31.5-inch model in June, with its big brother will follow sometime in Q3.

Acer-Phone

Acer Iconia W3

Acer were at Computex and are the first company to unveil a smaller form factor Windows 8 tablet. The 8-inch Iconia W3 comes with a 1280 x 800 display. On the tablet-side of things there’s front- and rear-facing two-megapixel cameras, plus connectivity through Bluetooth 4.0 and micro-USB.

The Iconia is packing impressive specs considering its size; there’s an Intel dual-core 1.8GHz Atom Z2760 processor, and the choice of either 32 or 64GB of internal storage, which can supplemented via the tablet’s microSD expansion slot. There’s also a built-in micro-HDMI for outputting the screen onto larger screens.

Top 5 DJ Controllers

Hercules-DJ-Control-Air

With the proliferation of mp3s the world of DJing has seen a seismic shift away from traditional forms of mixing to digital systems and controllers that solely work with digital music files. So it’ll come as no surprised to you that there’s a burgeoning market for low-cost easy-to-use DJ controllers that range from simple midi controllers to all-in-one systems – here are our top 5.

Hercules DJ Control AIR 2, price: £199

Hercules recently updated its popular DJ Control AIR range; the low-cost setup has been really popular for aspiring DJs who are on a tight budget of less than £200. The unique selling point of the DJ Control AIR + is it’s an all-in-one system – meaning you won’t need to fork out for a costly separate mixer.

The biggest change to the new AIR+ is it has increased size making a lot easier to use – crucial for any all-in-one DJ system. Other changes see both jog wheels increase in size to 5.9-inches, and they now both have 750 steps per turn – making scratching a lot more representative of a real vinyl player.

DJs are able to liven up their mixes with samples and hot cue points using the controller’s 8 touchpads, 4 per deck. Another clever touch is the harder you tap on each pad, the louder the playback volume. DJ Control AIR+ comes bundled with DJUCED, a new DJ mixing software that provides an adequate clone of Native Instruments’ Traktor.

XDJ-R1

Pioneer XDJ-R1, price: £859

Established hardware manufacturer Pioneer are also courting the all-in-one market with their newly announced XDJ-R1. This system is four times the price of the AIR+ – but for the money you get a system that wouldn’t look out of place in any of the world’s top clubs.

The controller features two decks (that work identically to the company’s much-love CDJs), there’s also: two CD slots, a full built-in mixer, two USB ports (allowing users to use the company’s Rekordbox software) – and a bulletproof set of ports and connections to supplement the system with extra CDJs and vinyl players.

Elsewhere you’ll find a bevy of beat effects, cross faders, EQs, filters and hot cues on the controller – just about everything you’d expect to see on professional club setup.
The XDJ-R1 can also be controlled wirelessly using Pioneer’s new Remotebox iOS app. The app allows users to browse music, mix tracks and even mash up tracks, all remotely using their favourite iDevice. The app can also be used to control an XY pad, crucial for professional sounding effects.

Ableton-Push

Push Controller – Akai, price: £429

While Ableton Live isn’t exclusively a performance tool, it does now have a brand-new performance controller called Push from Akai. The new controller doesn’t follow the design and look of a traditional DJ controller, instead Akai has taken it takes its design cues from its classic pad-based drums machines.

The Push controller essentially turns Ableton into a live instrument rather than being just another a generic midi controller – and, on the whole, it largely succeeds at this. Push immediately feels robust, mainly, due to Akai’s decision to give the controller a rubberised coating – making it perfect for DJs who do a lot travelling.

You can control almost any function of Live, so you can use the controller to navigate samples, launch tracks, play or step sequence drums, and you can even use it as a midi keyboard with fully pressure sensitive velocity pads.

Traktor-Kontrol-Z2

Native Instruments Traktor Z2, price: £500

Industry leaders in digital mixing, Native Instruments have also recently launched their latest all-in-one creation: the Z2. It’s another Traktor-centric MIDI controller that comes with a built-in audio interface, conventional analogue DJ mixer, a copy of Traktor Pro and Traktor Scratch Mk2 time encoded vinyl and CDs, for use with CDJs and vinyl players.

Like any good mixer, NI has kept the Z2’s hardware simple. It offers two channels, fed by either line or phono inputs, both with built-in Traktor Scratch decoders – so whether you use CDJs, turntables or even a laptop, the Z2 looks bring together the best of Traktor Pro and the tactile feel that only a phyiscal deck can provide.

The Z2 features two remix channels, meaning it fully supports Traktor’s recently released Remix Decks. Another great feature is the Allen and Heath-style filter knobs on each decks – making sweeping high and low-pass filters are incredibly smooth.

Pioneer-DDJ

Pioneer DDJ-WeGo, price: £249

Pioneer is also aiming to corner the budget DJ market, too, with its latest ultra compact DJ controller, the DDJ-WeGo. It enables DJs on a tight budget to get a professional DJ controller for under £300. Much like the Air+, the DDJ-WeGo is a two-channel all-in-one system.

Setting up WeGo is simple: just plug in a laptop and start up the software. The WeGO’s ergonomic controls and user-friendly interface make it easy for aspiring DJs to learn the ropes from the ground-up. But there’s also a range of advanced features from Pioneer’s professional products – such as Beat Sync, sound effects and loops, for DJs who want to get really creative. For the asking price you get a free copy of Virtual DJ that has the ability to perform music stored on a Windows PC or Mac.

Philips PicoPix PPX 3610: Pocket Projection

Philips-PicoPix-PPX3610

I have a Pico projector, and it’s one of the easiest ways to dazzle my friends. Not with it’s bulb (it’s a dim 30 lumens), but by it’s mere existence. Even in the age of smartphones, wifi scales and tablets people seem blown away that you can fit a projector into something smaller than a remote control. Sadly my pico projector of choice is four years old and is basically useless unless you are in a totally darkened room. And connectivity options are limited – cables (yuk) and micro-SD. So what does a modern pico projector bring to the table?

I got to spend a couple of minutes playing with the new Philips PicoPix PPX 3610 at Digital Summer – a gadget playground for tech journalists – and was impressed by how the technology had improved in what is a relatively short space of time. The PicoPix had triple the brightness of my old projector (up to 100 lumens) and a screen size of up to 120″.

Pico-PPX-3610

PicoPix also has more interface options – including mini-HDMI so you can play with smartphones, tablets and video game consoles. An integrated touch pad provides menu access and allows for easy navigation on the internet. Proof, if proof were needed that this is a modern projector comes with the fact that, like all great modern gadgets, PicoPix comes with an Android and iOS app that enables you to control the device remotely.

PicoPix has a battery life of two hours, 4gb of internal memory as well as a 1 watt sound bar, so it’s technically an autonomous projector, although you’d almost definitely want to beef up the sound a little if you were taking this on the road. The projector has an Officer Viewer so you can work with .pdf, .ppt/.pptx, .xsl/.xlsx, .doc/.docx files – although if you have a projector you could learn to do fun stuff with Isadora.

The Philips PicoPix PPX3610 projector is DLNA compatible so it can manage a WiFi connection to a DLNA Server and project any content stored there. No cables required, perfect for a home network. Loaded with Android (I was unable to determine which flavour), you will be able to go online and project YouTube videos, play games and surf the web without the need to be connected to another device.

The Philips PicoPix PPX3610 will be out in July 2013

Top 5 Power Solutions

Pivot-Power

As we accumulate more and more gadgets the number of four-way extension blocks needed to provide power for them all increases too. But the humble four-way isn’t the only solution, these days there’s a wide choice of kit to help you power and control your various devices. Let’s take a look at some of the more interesting options.

Pivot Power

The problem with standard four-way extensions is that many of today’s gadgets are powered by chunky transformers. Often these are so big that they block part of the adjacent socket so that you can’t plug anything else into it. The Pivot Power looks like an oversized bike chain but its clever design lets you bend it into different positions so that you can use all of its five sockets no matter what shape and size your adaptors are. It has built-in surge protection too and costs £29.95 from prezzybox.com

Piggy6

PIGGY6

A different solution to the same problem is the cutely named PIGGY6. A much neater design than the standard, flat extension strips it provides six filtered mains sockets in a circular configuration making them more easily accessible. In addition it features a built in HomePlug 3-port Ethernet bridge so that you can tidy up your network connections too. The PIGGY6 is avalable from solwise and costs £51.11.

Energenie-11

Energenie ENER011

Whilst it looks like it’s just a chunkier version of a standard extension strip the ENER011 has a trick up its sleeve. Four of the six sockets can be controlled from your PC via a USB port. They can be programmed to switch on and off at a particular time or triggered by an event. You can pre-program the unit for timed switching via the PC then unplug it and use it elsewhere, so you could use it to switch lights on and off when you’re away from home for example. The ENER011 Costs £49.99 direct from energenie4u

Energenie-22

Energenie ENER022

Also from Energenie is this GSM controlled power socket. Send it a text and you can switch power to a device on and off from anywhere. It can accept commands from one master phone and up to four others, it sends a text to the master phone whenever it’s switched so you always know its status. There’s a temperature sensor included too so you can use it to turn on a heater for example if things get a bit chilly, plus it has an internal clock for timed switching. It costs £129.99 from energenie4u and you need to add a pay-as-you-go SIM card.

Sweex

Sweex PP210 Intelligent UPS

Uninterruptible power supplies have long been popular in the business world but have always been rather pricey for home use. The Sweex PP210 though offers protection for up to four devices at an affordable £89.99. It gives a backup time of approximately 20 minutes in the event of a mains failure allowing you time to power down in an orderly way. It also features an Ethernet pass through socket to protect your network connection against surges. Plus there’s software that allows it to be monitored from a PC via a USB port so you can trigger an automatic shut down if there’s no one around when the power fails. You can buy one at maplin